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+ THE ADVENTURERS +
+ Epic VI +
+ Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other +
+ terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast +
+ which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use. Any such +
+ property contained within these stories are not representative of +
+ Wizards of the Coast in any fashion. +
+ The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright +
+ 1991-2022 by Thomas A. Miller. Any resemblance to any persons +
+ or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental. +
+ Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under +
+ the sole condition that no money is made in the process. In that +
+ case, I hope you enjoy them! +
+ Belphanior 18th/18th/18th level elven fighter/wizard/thief +
+ Hope 16th level female human wizard +
+ Poulos 8th level human warrior +
+ Irina 14th/7th level female human priestess/warrior +
+ Otto 12th/14th level dwarven fighter/thief +
+ Paige 13th level human female warrior +
+ Razor Charlie 12th level human fighter +
+ Skektek 14th level human wizard +
+ Ys 14th level reptilian fighter +
+ ALLIES +
+ Kronos ancient lich wizard +
+ Pallin 18th level grey elven wizard of Celestian, teleporter +
+ Parekh 18th level female human wizard, innovator +
+ Drak 15th level human barbarian warrior +
+ Date: 4/14/586 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: morning +
+ Place: Parekh's home (exact location unknown) +
+ Climate: cool and pleasant +
+ "I am a woman of infinite surprises." +
+ - Mrs. Frederick, from _Warehouse 13_ episode _Endless_ +
MCIV. Missing Companions
Since the previous day, Belphanior and the others had been guests in
Parekh's home, where the elf waited for news about the location of Neera
and the two others. Kronos had not returned the night before, and it was
now a new day...but Belphanior was still on edge, still frustrated. He
had a number of things he needed to do - find the missing companions,
figure out who plundered the vault, find and deal with them, check in on
his friends and other interests in other parts of the world, and find a
new home, roughly in that order - and he was ready to get to work.
Parekh: (discussing this with the elf as everyone is gathered in a large
hall, eating breakfast and talking among themselves) I'm sure it won't
be much longer, especially given what the lich told us yesterday.
Belphanior: (absently running his hand across his sword's pommel)
Drak: (piling his plate with enough ham, eggs, and bread to feed three
normal people) If I was in this situation, I'd be planning for blood to
flow and heads to roll, that's for damn sure.
Parekh: (casts him a sidelong glance) You're...not helping.
Drak: (shrugs his huge shoulders, and begins shoveling huge bites of food
into his mouth)
Belphanior: He's right. There's work to be done...swift, violent work.
The sooner I get started, the better. (he nods in the direction of Otto
and all the others, sitting at nearby tables) And they feel the same
way, although it might not look that way.
Parekh: I'm sure they do.
Pallin: Wherever Kronos finds your friends, I can open a portal to take
us there. The only question is, where will we be going?
Parekh: And what will we face there?
Belphanior: Whoever attacked the vault and took Neera, the girl, and the
gnome will regret the day they were born. The only thing worse than
their course of action was their timing. I haven't been this angry in
a long time.
Parekh: (blinks suddenly) We have company.
Moments later, Kronos entered the dining hall, having obviously made
his way here and initially appeared in an adjacent room. As usual, the
pale lich gave no hint of his mood, or what he had found; his face was
impassive, his red eyes unreadable.
Kronos: You are in luck. Your companions are not on this world, nor
anywhere in the Prime Material Plane. Similarly, they are not amidst
the Inner Planes, or the Outer Planes...or the Astral Plane or Ethereal
Parekh: (frowns) And how is this good news?
Pallin: (by process of deduction, he comes to a guess a bit sooner than
any of the others) Demiplane.
Kronos: (nods) Somehow - and even I have no idea exactly how - your
missing companions seem to have located and ventured to a demiplane, a
pocket dimension nestled between larger and more prominent ones.
Parekh: (to Belphanior) Did Neera have the power to do that?
Belphanior: Not that I know of...but remember, a lot of time passed while
we were away. We don't know what happened, and we won't know until we
reunite with them. (he turns to Kronos) What else do you know? What
is the nature of this demiplane? Does magic function there? Is there
air to breathe? Do we need to make any special preparations?
Kronos: They are safe. Their location is little more than a tiny sliver
of a dimension - in fact, it almost appears that it was created even as
they ventured there. At any rate, there will be no issues there.
Parekh: Now I know Neera didn't have the power to do _that_.
Belphanior: (thinking about all the magic items and arcane lore that had
been in the vault, and the years Neera had to study them) Maybe...
Pallin: (to Kronos) I can open a portal there; I simply need to know the
details...to know what you know.
Kronos: I have a trivial spell, one that will allow me to impart that
information to you. (he regards the grey elf questioningly)
Pallin: (nods) Proceed.
The lich uttered some arcane words of power in an ancient language, and
then clasped the other's shoulder gently. By means of the spell, all that
Kronos has seen and learned of that demiplane was shared with Pallin...
which would allow the elf to accurately locate the destination and create
a gateway between their current location and the other.
Kronos: (removes his hand from Pallin's shoulder)
Pallin: (opens his eyes) I can now visualize the demiplane as if I'd
actually been there myself. Which means you also have those details
within your mind. Is it truly that powerful, this thr-
Kronos: It is.
Parekh: (to Pallin) Are you ready?
Pallin: (nods) The way is clear to me. Generating the portal will be
Belphanior: (to Parekh) I'm as eager to get this done as anyone, but
are you really going to initiate this doorway from here, in your own
home? What if something goes wrong?
Parekh: I am prepared for this sort of thing. (she turns to leave the
chamber) Follow me, whoever wants to be involved in this.
Paige: (to Hope) This should be interesting...whatever the hell it turns
out to be.
Of course, everyone came along; these were adventurers, driven by the
need to see and explore the unknown. None of them wanted to miss such a
thing as a doorway opened between dimensions...well, almost none of them.
Razor Charlie: (looking at all the tasty food on the table, then thinking
about other worlds, he grimaces before getting up to follow the rest)
Parekh led them through a long hallway, on either side of which were
doors at periodic intervals; these led to other rooms and areas. Unlike
many castles and houses, the sorceress' home was simply designed and quite
functional. One end of the long hall had a short set of stairs leading
up to living quarters, including those for guests. The main length of
the passage held the feasting hall, the kitchen, storage rooms, a library,
and other such common spaces. The far end of the hall - where they now
headed - ended in another short set of stairs, this one descending before
ending in a simple wooden door. This portal held powerful protective
enchantments, and could be quite difficult to bypass when it needed to be.
Beyond was a central chamber with passages radiating outward, like a star;
these all led to workrooms, laboratories, and the like...one of which was
Parekh: (leads everyone down one corridor, which ends in a large, metal
hatch-like door that looks as if it could stop a golem) Drak, if you
Drak: Of course not. (he takes hold of the metal wheel protruding from
the door, and grunts as he applies his immense strength to it)
Parekh: (turns to the others helpfully) While this chamber has numerous
magical wards and protections, the door yet requires a great deal of
physical strength to open. It's another level of protection, just like
the lead and other metals built into both the door and the entire room
Kronos: (nods, understanding this sort of thinking)
Belphanior: (eyes the lich) You're still here? I though you weren't
going to help after finding Neera and the others for us?
Kronos: (cryptically) I have...changed my mind.
Belphanior: Suit yourself.
The thick metal hatchway opened into a room unlike anything they had
ever seen before. It was vast, without visible walls or ceiling; this
was in part due to the darkness that cloaked the gigantic chamber. The
only illumination came from the floor, which was fashioned of reddish
stone, at least in the thirty-foot-wide path leading from the entry door
into the place.
Parekh: (turns around to address the entire group) I would suggest you
do not stray from this walkway.
That might have been easy to do, given the singular object at the far
end a hundred feet distant, and the way it utterly dominated the room. It
was a gigantic, silvery metal frame, not unlike a picture frame...but the
thing was colossal. At least thirty feet wide and perhaps twice that in
height, the oversized frame lacked an actual picture within its gigantic
border - just a smooth, dull gray surface.
Parekh: (heads toward the far end of the vast room) You may be wondering
what this chamber is, though some of you may have begun to guess.
Skektek: (comments sarcastically to Otto, in a low voice) I figured it
out already. It's the world's largest and dirtiest mirror.
Otto: Somehow, I doubt that.
Parekh: It isn't a mirror, though there might be some sort of analogy
there for lesser minds to grasp at.
Skektek: (shocked that she could hear him, he fumes wordlessly but wisely
holds his tongue)
Parekh: This is where I deal with other worlds, other planes; in case
something goes wrong, the...problem will be confined to just this area.
Belphanior: That's a good idea. Brilliant, actually.
Pallin: (flatly) I assisted with its design and construction.
Parekh: From here, we can work the necessary magic to open the portal
to the demiplane. (she reaches the flat vertical panel at the far end,
touching the dull gray surface while speaking words of command in a low
The result was nothing short of amazing: the blank area within the
frame gradually faded away, revealing a field of stars like one might see
by looking up into the sky on a clear night.
Skektek: (gapes, his earlier joke suddenly forgotten) Whoa.
Parekh: Behold...the multiverse. Or at least, a one-way window into it.
From here, it is faster and easier to open portals to other planes of
Razor Charlie: (silently wondering if "faster and easier" should ever
apply to doorways between this world and alien ones)
Kronos: (folds his arms, studying the gigantic object) Impressive.
Parekh: It was no easy matter to build this, let me assure you.
Belphanior: But you did, and we're here. (he sets his jaw) So we're
that much closer to getting the others back?
Pallin: (nods) I am ready.
notes: My inspiration for Parekh's magical planar-window chamber was
the portal to the Negative Zone, within the Baxter Building, in the
classic _Fantastic Four_ comics of the 1960s and 1970s. There's also a
tribute to that in _Planetary_ issue 6 as the protagonists explore the
headquarters of a hostile organization.
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